Wayne Rooney has offered some insight into Alex Ferguson’s brilliant man-management skills.
The legendary former Manchester United manager fell out with most of his best players – such as Roy Keane, Rooney, David Beckham, Paul Ince and Ruud van Nistelrooy.
However, Ferguson also knew how to get the best from all of them, as countless anecdotes from former Red Devils can attest.
Ferguson’s man-management skills
Rooney is the latest former United player to shine a light on the Scot’s ability to get the best from each of his players.
The former England captain has said that Ferguson criticised him at half-time during almost every match he played in his early years at Old Trafford.
Yet, Rooney now realises that Ferguson called him out as a way to spark a reaction from other players.
The Derby County player/coach understands that by criticising him, someone with thick skin and a strong personality, it sent a message to other, more laid-back characters in the Man United dressing room.
Ferguson wanted to send a message to Nani
For example, Rooney says that Ferguson would criticise him for dribbling too much in a game.
The former Everton forward now realises that Nani was the true target of Ferguson’s criticism, but he couldn’t directly criticise the Portuguese winger, as he would not have responded in a positive manner.
“His man-management is the best I’ve ever seen,” Rooney told the Guardian in an interview.
“I always remember as a kid, every half-time arguing with him. Constantly.
“I remember thinking: ‘Why’s he keep having a go at me? There’s players far worse than what I’ve been.’
“But the older you get, you realise why he’s doing it. He would have a go at me for dribbling, which I very rarely… Well, I dribbled a bit more then…
“But for [players such as] Nani, it would just maybe trigger something in their head, make them think: ‘Maybe I shouldn’t dribble as much.’
“If he [Sir Alex] spoke to Nani the way he spoke to me, he’d break down in tears. He [Nani] wouldn’t be able to come back out.”
Nani played 230 times for Man United and scored 40 goals.
He was part of the team that won four Premier League titles, two League Cups, the Champions League and the Club World Cup.
He would play just 14 times for United after Ferguson retired in 2013.
Louis van Gaal allowed Nani to join Sporting Lisbon on loan in 2014 before he joined Besiktas on a permanent deal in 2015.
However, the winger was a Fergie favourite and produced some excellent performances for the club, particularly between 2009 and 2012.